"Quantity over quality" defines what Deca Sports 2 is all about. While you seem to get good value for your money in the game's 10 included sports, the selection is decidedly weird and the remote-and-nunchuk control schemes range from average to awful. While you could have some multiplayer fun with a group of good-natured participants, the games are are strange bunch, many of which are poorly represented. So if you've been waiting patiently for a video-game simulation of petanque or synchronized swimming, complete with terrible motion controls, please head out to the nearest store posthaste. If not, please move along, because there's nothing to see here.
Like last year's Deca Sports, this sequel is another failed attempt to mimic the sports compilation formula Nintendo is using with the successful Wii Sports franchise. The focus remains primarily on kids: the graphics are cartoonish, the athletes are based on Mii avatars, and every match is accompanied by a peppy tune that seems to have been rescued from old Sonic game outtakes. The 10 sports are a strange mix of the popular and the somewhat bizarre. Sure, you get mainstream ice hockey, tennis, and that schoolyard favorite dodgeball, but you're also stuck with the likes of synchronized swimming, darts, kendo, mogul skiing, speed skating, road racing, and petanque. It's difficult to have much confidence in the sports included here, because Deca Sports 2 doesn't seem to understand some of them. The ice hockey tutorial, for instance, instructs you in the fine art of "dribbling" the puck and "tackling" opposing skaters.
A much bigger problem is the wonky controls. The Wii Remote is maddeningly unresponsive or just plain off-kilter in many games. In petanque, you throw balls by pointing the remote at the ground and then swinging it upward--a great simulation of the real-life act of bowling. But here, you typically have to almost scrape the floor to get the remote to register the start of a swing, which makes for an awkward playing style and a lot of messed-up shots. Darts is insanely goofy, forcing you to hold down the A and B buttons, aim a cursor at the dart board, and then pull the remote back and flick it forward to throw. Good luck aiming and flicking at the same time without breaking your wrist or back. It's at least funny to watch friends try to pull this off, because it requires some interesting body contortions to get all the moves coordinated. The controls for ice hockey also don't work well. You just slide around the huge European-sized ice surface hogging the puck and shooting from all over the place because the passing mechanics are too erratic to trust. Road racing sees you trying to balance your motorcycle with an incredibly touchy remote turned on its side. Even the should-have-been-simple tennis is marred by overly sensitive swinging and the odd decision to map player movement controls to the A and B buttons instead of the control stick on the nunchuk.
Sports that do have half-decent controls stick you with simplistic repetition that makes winning incredibly easy. Synchronized swimming is handled by tediously twitching the remote when prompted by onscreen targeting rings. Easy to learn, easy to master. The same can be said for kendo's monotonous remote shaking, along with speed skating and mogul skiing's up-and-down pumping of the remote and nunchuk. Dodgeball offers the ability to easily throw and pass the ball and hammer it off opponents, although the utter simplicity of the game all but guarantees that your interest will wane before the end of your first match.
About the only thing that's appealing about Deca Sports 2, then, is the fact that it's a party game. As with most compilations of this sort, the many problematic parts of the design can almost be ignored when you've got a bunch of friends together yukking it up. Even petanque is almost enjoyable when played with a buddy. There are lots of game modes too, ranging from basic solo match play to leagues, tournaments, and challenges for one to four players. Hardcore types can even customize whole teams in the editor, making their own club of Mii guys and gals to match up with prebuilt clubs like the Crusaders and Team Thunder, and then go online to face off with other human opponents in ice hockey, dodgeball, and tennis. Or at least you can go online in theory. The game is incredibly touchy over which team names it considers clean enough to permit into multiplayer, even rejecting sanitary choices like Team Thump. Regardless, numerous attempts to hook up with a random opponent failed, so it seems reasonable to assume that very few people are playing the game online.
Simulating offbeat sports with the Wii's motion controls certainly remains an interesting proposition, but the lineup in Deca Sports 2 is so all over the place and the controls are so frequently annoying that it's hard to imagine anyone staying interested in the game for long. Give it a shot only if you desperately need to entertain some kids for a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon.